Saturday Night Coming Up

At Neil and Hel’s wedding back in October, I had the pleasure of hooking up with one of my old clubbing buddies, for only the third time in about ten years.

I’d last met him at his wedding, back in April 2017, when I’d met his wife for the first time. I know that makes me sound awful – how could I not have met of my friends’ girlfriends (and now wife) until they got married? – but I have been exceptionally lazy in popping back to my old stomping ground of Cardiff. They had just started seeing each other when I left Wales, now they are married with a kid. Time Flies.

Anyway, I’ve mentioned him before, I think – he has asked to go by the pseudonym of Dum-Dum, a name he used to use on the clubbing forums back in the day.

The three of us sat together for the meal, and I was initially reticent about what to say about our hedonistic clubbing days; I knew that Dum-Dum’s wife was not from clubbing stock, and I had the impression it would not be a good idea to reminisce with him in her presence.

But…but he brought this story up in her presence (along with one other, which I’ll save for another day), and then shortly afterwards sent me details of the night in question to flesh it out.

So let me start by saying this involved me, Dum-Dum and at least one other (who shall remain nameless) venturing to a venue which we didn’t normally bother with – Evolution, down in Cardiff Bay –  to join in birthday celebrations of Cardiff’s long running Time Flies club night. Here’s the flyer (which Dum-Dum kindly provided, via a Facebook page):

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I’ll be honest, other than the story I’m about to tell, I remember nothing about that night. All I can say is that we were unlikely to have spent much time in Room 2 – a bit too hard house, moon boots and glow-sticks for our liking.

Here’s what Dum-Dum told me, via Twitter, that he could remember of the night:

All I remember is the queue being massive, being stuck on stairs off our heads and then trying to get home. Cant remember inside.”

A good night was had by all, then.

Ordinarily, our clubbing nights out in Cardiff would end with us walking home to my flat, where we would sit listening to tunes and probably polishing off any of the “goodies” we’d not got through when we were out. Our flat was a bit of a sanctuary for friends not yet ready to return to parents/girlfriends/wives.

But coming back from Evolution meant either a really long walk, or a taxi ride home. I do have a vague recollection of the three of us spending ages in the predictably driving Welsh rain trying to flag a cab down (although this may have been a different night. Hard to tell.)

Finally, a taxi driver took pity on us and stopped; we piled in. As was often the way, as I’m a gobby chatty person at the best of times, I am charged with occupying the front passenger seat, so I can engage with the driver and hopefully make him think that we are not as off our faces as we really are (or were, when we left the club, probably less so by now). Dum-Dum sits immediately behind me, our other traveller behind the driver.

On this occasion, bar telling the driver my address, I’m happy to let the radio fill the silence. He has something like Heart or Kiss playing; it’s perfectly pleasant and I sink back into my seat.

There’s something else I need to tell you, which is that Dum-Dum is a man of few words. Generally our conversations when out clubbing can be summarised to the following sentences:

  1. “Are you off it yet?”
  2. “Have you got any left?”
  3. “I think I’m coming up.”
  4. “Chooooooooooooon!”
  5. “I’m getting some water, do you want some?”

But in this taxi-ride, something new was happening. Behind me, I could hear Dum-Dum started to sing along to the song on the taxi’s radio.

I looked in the rear-view mirror and watched as our unnamed other traveller joined in.

And so I did too.

And moments later, the taxi driver added his dulcet tones to the chorus.

Suddenly, the four occupants of the taxi are howling along to an old disco tune like our lives depend on it.

We arrived at my flat before the song had finished. No words were spoken, but we all happily sat in the taxi, singing along until it was done. It was one of those moments you expect to see in schmaltzy American teenage coming-of-age dramas, where you shake your head and say “That wouldn’t happen.”

And although it may not sound that great to you now, the three of us – and, I’d wager, the taxi driver – all still remember it to this day, almost fifteen years later.

The song finished, I thanked and paid the driver, and we stumbled into my flat (the taxi driver did not).

The song? This one:

realthings2

The Real Thing – You To Me Are Everything

Put some clothes on, boys.

More soon.

Sick, Sick, Sick

Back to hospital stuff now. Sorry to all that are squeamish.

My first night on the ward is hellish. For a start, it’s too hot. I can’t sleep. Nurse James gallantly tries to sort the air-con out and eventually it cools enough to allow me to sleep, a little.

The following morning I am able to assess my surroundings and my fellow detainees, who have also been responsible for keeping me awake for most of the night.

Opposite me is a man I have heard being told he can go home; he reacts badly to this news and refuses to go.

To my left is a chap who I never see; he is in for some rather unpleasant and invasive bowel cancer related surgery and he insists on keeping the curtain between us drawn. I have no objection to this. One less person to be irritated by.

Diagonally opposite is an Irish guy. He seems to have nothing wrong with him. He keeps getting up and wandering around. He is surrounded by a massive stockpile of drinks and chocolate which makes me think that he knows something I don’t and a No Deal scenario has already happened. I wonder why he is even here.

As the day progresses, the Irish guy attracts a large ensemble of friends and family. At one point he is taken away somewhere, and his entourage goes with him. I snooze, and wake to hear what sounds like a fight kicking off amongst them. This seems to have been fuelled by him being (saying he had been) told he can go home but the staff not being kept in the loop. He calls someone, and soon, he is gone. A calm settles over the ward.

James appears at my bedside.

“You’re moving,” he informs me.

“Awww, are we not to have another night of you fumbling with my genitals?” I ask.

Soon, I am being wheeled from my bay, into the service lift and up to a different floor. I’m deposited into a corner of a new ward; there is nobody to my left but opposite me is a chap clearly in some discomfort, next to him is a man who already looks dead but has a visitor sitting chatting to him as if he hasn’t noticed.

A male nurse comes over and introduces himself; he is Kenneth and it transpires that it’s his last night of service on this ward. Although it’s unspoken, it’s clear that he would really rather I was no bother to him. I have no issue with complying.

But.

I feel a little bit of heartburn/acid reflux coming on. It’s something I get every now and then, and so I know how to treat it. I call Kenneth, and explain the problem, asking for a Rennie or some other antacid/milk of magnesia solution.

“I’ll ask the pharmacist,” is the response I get. Of course, I realise, before anything is administered, they have to seek approval. I lay back and wait.

But it gets worse. I call the nurse again and ask where we are with the antacid tablet. Kenneth tells me he has asked the pharmacist, and he will chase them up.

Five minutes later, and I’m suddenly aware that something is going to be coming up if I don’t get some medication quickly. I call the nurse again, and tell them I’m going to be sick if I don’t get something quickly. I’m provided with several cardboard recepticles to be sick into. Courteous to the very end, I oblige, vomiting into each one and setting each filled one on to my table, until I have no more to fill.

At which point, the projectile vomiting starts; I remember hitting one (already filled) cardboard tray, knocking it over, my sick spattering all over the floor and wall. It was quite spectacular.

The nursing team all rushed over to me, but by now it’s too late; I’m throwing up like Linda Blair in The Excorcist, jets of black liquid shooting wherever I point my face.

The nurses begin mopping up my expelled detritus, and a decision to move me to my own room is made. As my bed is wheeled from the ward I shout a “sorry if I disturbed you” apology to my ward-mates, whilst also trying to tell the nurses that I’m not normally this much bother, honest.

Obligatory tuneage:

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Mudhoney – Touch Me I’m Sick

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Queens of the Stone Age – Sick, Sick, Sick

Several hours later, the sickness subsides, and I realise that the palaver I’ve caused has inadvertently acted in my favour – I now have my own room, where I remain for the rest of my stay in hospital. Result!

More soon.

Singles Going Steady

I can’t let the sad news of Buzzcocks’ frontman Pete Shelley’s death on Thursday pass without comment.

There are very few albums that I consider to be essential for any music lover to own; even fewer of those are compilations or Greatest Hits albums.

But Buzzcocks’ Singles Going Steady is one of them.

Originally released in 1979 as an introduction of the band to an indifferent US market, and then released in the UK a couple of years later in 1981, it contains 16 singles and their B-sides, all of them (bar the final two) clocking in at around the three-minute mark, all of them absolute perfect examples of buzzing guitars, insightful lyrics and, above all, amazingly catchy songwriting.

I have no idea how often one of these tracks must have cropped up on a mix-tape I made as a teenager (or on a CD as I got older); the brevity of the songs just perfect for squeezing in at the arse-end of a C-90, a pleasing tempter for what might lay on the next side.

Consequently, it’s hard to pick just one to highlight, so I figured I’d plump for one written by Shelley on his own, rather than in collaboration with guitarist Steve Diggle, or Howard Devoto (before he jumped ship to form Magazine).

What I mean is: I could have picked any track to illustrate how great Buzzcocks were in their pomp, and how important to the whole punk and new wave scene they – and Shelley – were. I’ve plumped for this one; it’s not the tune that means the most to me (that would be What Do I Get?, which we used to cover in the band I was in at college, complete with it’s “tricky guitar solo”) but it does make my point exquisitely:

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Buzzcocks – I Don’t Mind

Rest in Peace, Pete; you’ll be sadly missed.

More soon.